Frostgrave has been out for about nine months now, and in that time it has received more ‘play testing’ than I could have ever dreamed. Thousands of games have been played, and I’ve done my best to read, watch, and analyse as many as possible. From that, I am confident in saying that there is nothing in the game that is ‘broken’, that is, there is nothing that makes the game unplayable. However, I do believe there is plenty of room for improvement.
Probably the most controversial aspect of the game system is experience points. There was a lot of shouting about them right after release, and I suspect it is the most commonly house-ruled element of the game. That’s wonderful. I love house rules, and it is great that people like the rest of the system enough to spend the time modifying the game to suit their needs. That said, as a rules-writer, it would be better if I could come up with an official system that kept game balance while making the vast majority of players happy.
I am now beginning that process, and I’m asking for feedback! So please comment below.
Currently there are four main ways for wizards to earn experience points in Frostgrave, and these are my thoughts on them.
1. Killing Stuff
This is the main point of controversy. Since wizards only receive xps for stuff they kill directly, it stands to reason that wizards who are better at killing things will receive more xps. There is some internal balance to this, but perhaps not enough. If I were writing the game now, I would definitely lower the killing stuff xp rewards. In fact, I would probably take it all the way down to a flat 25xp for killing a wizard, apprentice, or soldier. I know there are some people who have done away with kill rewards altogether.
In most of the scenarios in The Thaw of the Lich Lord campaign, wizards are given xps for all servants of the Lich Lord killed by anyone in their warband. Although this doesn’t make strict sense, I wonder if players would prefer this system where the reward is just for the kills and regardless of who exactly does the killing?
When working on the game, I don’t think I fully grasped how the recovery of treasure in a game was a double reward. First you get the xps and then you also get the treasure. I don’t think this is a major issue, and since grabbing treasure is still the point of the standard game, I wouldn’t want to change anything too drastically. I would probably take treasure recovery down to 35xp. This would mean in a tie game, where each player gets 3 treasures, they would each gain a level. Or, if a player sweeps the board, they still only gain two levels instead of three from treasure.
3. Spell Casting
If other xp rewards are going to go down, this is the most logical one to put up. When I first wrote the game, the plan was to give 25xp for each different spell successfully cast by a wizard or apprentice during a game. I can’t remember why I changed it, and I have always been slightly disappointed that I did. This system would give more reward to wizards who used a variety of spells during a game, which is more in keeping with the theme. It also means that wizards that had a bad spell casting game and only got off one or two spells would still get a descent xp return.
4. Scenario Goals
While not used in a ‘standard game’, I think most people generally play scenarios. I think most people will agree that xp rewards for specific scenario events (such as drinking from the Well of Dreams and Sorrows) add a lot to the game. However, the more scenario rewards that are available, the less xps should be gained from the above three sources. In a future supplement, I am planning on introducing a table of ‘subplots’ that players can roll on before the game to generate scenario rewards, thus turning even standard games into more specific scenarios. So, it might be a good thing if xps from killing, treasure, and spell casting actually go down.
There are a few other ways to gain xps. The most obvious is the Absorb Knowledge spell. This spell exists partly to offset the advantage of killy wizards. In retrospect, I think I should have made its casting cost a bit higher, probably a 10, but I don’t think it is a major issue. I suspect, even with all of the possible modifications above, it would still not be a major issue. Yhere are a few other ways to gain bonus xps. I think these can be fun, but I don’t want too many of them out there as combined they could get out of hand.
So, those are my thoughts on experience points at the moment. Now, I really want to hear what you, the players think. I don’t know when, if ever, I will make an official change to the rules, but if I do, I want to make sure they are ones that both I, and the vast majority of players, are happy with.